The Bahai Gardens are an unforgettable sight. A breathtakingly manicured garden is the center of not only the religious community of Bahai, but it is the administrative center as well, housing the tomb of the founder of the Bahai faith, Mirza Ali Mohammed. The Bahai Shrine and Gardens are one of the major tourist attractions in Haifa and are inspired by the faith of Bahai as well as the different faiths around the world. The Golden Dome in Haifa commands the view, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Mirza Ali Mohammed was exiled from Persia in the nineteenth century for proclaiming that he was the gateway to God; he was known as the Bab. The beauty of Mount Carmel captured his heart, and several years after his death, his body was buried at the site on which now stands the Bahai Shrine and Gardens. Since then, it has become the leading place for administrative and religious activity in Haifa and the Bahai community.
The Bahai Gardens are a series of concentric circles with various types of vegetation and forms of design over a succession of terraces leading up to the golden-domed central shrine. The flora in each of the nine gardens originates from a different part of the world, inspired by the nine largest religious communities. At the height of the nineteen terraces is the highly manicured Persian Gardens, below which lies the illustrious Hanging Gardens, leading to the appropriately named Hanging Gardens of Haifa. The irrigation system is designed as such that no water is wasted or used too much relative to the rainfall. The Bahai Gardens is one of the top tourist attractions in Israel, designed by architect Fariborz Sahba from Iran, who now lives in Canada.
Dominating the landscape is the Golden Dome in Haifa atop the shrine building, a beautiful structure, composed of 14,000 gold-plated bricks; it houses the tomb of the Bab, Mirza Ali Mohammed. The Bahai tradition believes in religious unity, and as such the shrine is designed with architecture from both Eastern and Western civilizations. Higher than the shrine is the archives building which is modeled after the Parthenon, as well as the Bahai Universal House of Justice with hanging gardens.
Having recently undergone a redesigning, the gardens are geometrically manicured and symmetrically beautiful. They have been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2008 and have earned the title of the Eighth Wonder of the World. Travelers interested in religious history during a trip to Israel will find that a trip to the Golden Dome in Haifa is well worth adding to the itinerary, along with such sacred sites as the Dome of the Rock and the Basilica of the Annunciation.
Visitors from all over the world come to visit these elaborately designed gardens cascading down the side of Mount Carmel and blending nicely into the natural landscape surrounding the Bahai Shrine and Gardens. If you are planning a vacation in Israel, the Bahai Gardens should hold one of the top spots on your list of things to do. It is not only a beautiful place for sightseeing, but it is a great place to snag a bit of culture during your trip to the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.
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